What do Easter chocolate treats and a day commemorating Jesus’ Resurrection have in common? Surprisingly, they are all related to the horrific abuse of human rights and child slavery in Africa!
It is estimated that nine out of ten Americans engorge on chocolate, 67% on a daily basis. That means that Americans consume 2.8 billion pounds of chocolate every year, averaging 11 pounds per person. During Easter children will dash through fields and yards to search for 60 million chocolate bunnies and 15 billion colorful jelly beans enough to circle the globe more than four times. It is astounding how commercialized a religious holiday has become!
And where does this coveted chocolate treat come from? Together, Ghana and Ivory Coast produce 60% of the world’s cocoa. More than 10m people survive off the industry. According to the International Labor Association, between 12,000 and 200,000 of the children in the cocoa industry there are victims of human trafficking or slavery. Children work up to 100 hours a week and are reportedly beaten if they don’t hurry or if they attempt to escape.
Think long and hard about the candy sweets you are about to dive into next week. You are pretty much eating the flesh off of a child slave’s back when you peel back that dark wrapped goodness. Most children who picked the cocoa beans with rickety machetes and tools to cut the cocoa bean stalks risk dying in those fields from work-related injuries. They never have the luxury of actually eating any chocolate for themselves.
The chocolate industry has been openly aware of this horrifying situation for almost a decade, and yet chocolate giants like Nestle, Hershey’s and Cadbury continue to purchase cocoa from Africa. They claim that they have taken steps to obtain the cocoa from ethical sources through fair trade agreements. In reality, cocoa has become increasingly hard to trace. To confuse the chocolate industry and eliminate proof of child slavery, farmers, wholesalers, and exporters increase the number of hands and steps it takes for the cocoa bean to become a chocolate bunny. It’s almost impossible to trace where the actual cocoa came from in every instance of manufacturing chocolate.
Take politics into consideration for a minute. US Congressman Eliot Engel proposed legislation nine years ago that would have required all chocolate sold in America to state on the label that it is slave-labor-free or child-slave-labor-free. I suspect that money and trade agreements altered his view of compassion for the child slaves. My theory is based on the fact that in 2001, he agreed instead to an industry regulated six-point plan to put an end to child labor in the chocolate trade, with the threat of legislation looming should they fail to act. That should really scare a country into reversing child labor-thereby sealing their financial fate and becoming more impoverished and desperate! As one would expect, the proposed legislation was a complete failure. Nothing ever came of it, and the child slavery continued in a country depending on child slaves to squeeze out a meager living in an already corrupt and destitute economy.
On March 18th, 2010, Greenpeace released a bold You Tube video that puts the limelight on Nestlé, maker of Kit Kat. Nestle’ uses palm oil from companies that are trashing Indonesian rain-forests, threatening the livelihoods of local people and pushing orang-utans towards extinction. Though the You-Tube video was taken down by Nestle’, Greenpeace kept their original link up. This has fostered a social riot on the Internet requesting a boycott from eating Nestle’ products.
Are you sickened by what you have just learned and want to make a difference? There five ways you can put your dent in the child slavery market. Go to Cause Cast to learn how!